Local musician to take the stage at The Lyric

Published 10:18 am Friday, September 10, 2021

Guitarist and singer Eric Deaton, a guest on the Local Yokels Show a few months back, plans to take the stage for a sold-out show at The Lyric in Oxford, on Thursday, Sept. 23.  Along with another North Mississippi musician Kenny Brown, he will join hugely successful rock band The Black Keys for one of their only three live appearances slated for 2021.

“The way they explained it to me is, they’ll probably do a ‘greatest hits thing,’ and then bring me and Kenny out to do the new record,” said Deaton.

Besides being a professional live performer, Deaton makes a living partly as a ‘hired gun’ studio musician, and in recent years has been called up to Nashville to assist Black Keys’ front man and producer Dan Auerbach with multiple projects.

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“In 2019, he started calling me to do some sessions on bass,” said Deaton.  The first one turned out to be Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ Grammy-nominated album.

An unexpected byproduct of these trips to Auberbach’s Nashville studio became Deaton’s contribution – along with guitarist Brown – to the group’s 10th album release “Delta Kream,” which earned the Keys their fourth No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart.

Deaton and Brown completed an unrelated session they’d been hired for well ahead of schedule, then found themselves being asked to spend the remainder of their time recording staple songs by North Mississippi Hill Country blues patriarchs Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside.

With the addition of a song by Fred McDowell (who spent much of his life in Panola County, and is buried at Hammond Hill M.B. Church Cemetery in Como), the band’s next release took form as a tribute album, and homage to the region’s rich blues heritage.  Particularly Hill Country blues, characterized by trance inducing rhythm and loose framework – different from blues out of the Delta, which holds closer to structure and chord patterns.

After being shelved for a year due to COVID-19, the album was finally released in May.  It not only topped Rock album charts, but also Blues, Alternative, and Americana.

On June 19, Deaton joined beloved Local Yokels Show hosts Ricky, Johnny and Wendy for a terrific Saturday morning interview at the infamous Padded Room Studio.  The seasoned performer had made the acquaintance of the hosts as a headliner at this year’s Springfest Friday Night Street Dance, with his band the Eric Deaton Trio.  He agreed to visit the live streaming radio/internet show, in part to promote his slot at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, which took place in Waterford the following weekend and turned out to be a great success.

Deaton talked about how he got started playing his first Cort-brand guitar through a 10-inch amplifier speaker when he was 13.  “The first thing I did was crank everything to 10,” he told the show hosts and listening audience.  “That’s the only way you could hear it!”

He recalled how he first gathered influences by hunting down classic rock and blues records, spending what little money he had as a high schooler in North Carolina.  Also, he received instruction and mentorship from guitarist Audley Freed, who Deaton said “at that time, was a local, great rock guitar player.”   

With regard to his transition to blues music, Deaton told Ricky and Johnny, “I started tracing all of my favorite rock bands to their blues roots.”

He also shared about the weekly Sundays he would spend cutting his teeth at the legendary Junior Kimbrough’s juke joint near Holly Springs in the mid-90s, upon relocating to Senatobia to attend Northwest Mississippi Community College directly after graduation.  Then he picked a few in-studio solo numbers, with his unique treatment of original and traditional Hill Country blues.

His selections included a serving of Delta blues originator Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues,” embellished by Deaton’s identifiable vocal swagger, and exhibiting bottleneck slide guitar playing ability.

Another Panola County connection for Deaton is his considerable amount of studio work at the now defunct Delta Recording Service, which occupied 209 North Main Street in Como for several years.  This included his own 2009 album release, “Smile at Trouble,” and also ones for numerous other artists.

Deaton looks forward to the sold-out event at the end of the month.  Also, the prospect of more work to come at Auerbach’s Nashville studio, Easy Eye Sound.  He has hopes of completing a third album of his own, which would serve as a long-awaited follow up to the 2009 release.

More information on Deaton is available at EricDeatonMusic.com.